Kentucky Derby 2023: Horse by horse analysis

Following last year’s storybook Derby upset will be difficult, but plenty of intrigue awaits in this version of the Run for the Roses. Likely favorite Forte has looked like the clear top contender since the fall, as his trainer Todd Pletcher enters with one of his best fleets going into Churchill in his career. If last year taught us anything however, it’s that anyone can fly under the radar and be a contender in this 20-horse field. 

The recent emergence of Japanese-bred ​​runners in North America continues with two contenders in Derma Sotogake and Continuar, both carrying rookie connections into this field. A third Japanese horse, Mandarin Hero, is on the also-eligible list.

The first-time combo of Sonny Leon and Eric Reed captured the first jewel of the Triple Crown last May, setting the precedent for some new shooters drawing into this year’s contest. On the flipside, usual suspects like Brad Cox and Tim Yakteen, who takes over some former Bob Baffert trainees, enter four and two runners here, respectively.

Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move will likely be the second choice of the betting public for Yakteen after a narrow win last time out, while Cox’s Pennsylvania-bred Angel of Empire gives him a chance for his second Derby win. Perhaps the always-dangerous Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Joel Rosario will get some revenge after their 2022 defeat with favored Epicenter; they both look for their first Derby victory here with the overlooked Disarm. 

No matter the result, expect the unexpected in Kentucky as this mix of familiar faces and new connections aim to etch their names in the history books alongside the stunning 2022 winner Rich Strike.

Post time for the Derby is 6:57 PM EST on Saturday, May 6th as the twelfth race on the Churchill card. Good luck, and let’s hope you “strike it rich” this year.


1. #5 Tapit Trice (5-1) — Late closer offers wagering value, may need to be a bit more forward Saturday to wear the roses

2. #14 Angel of Empire (8-1) — Improving PA-bred took a step into top company in last and may have the right style to make a big impact

3. #15 Forte (3-1) Virginia-connected runner hasn’t put a foot wrong and must be considered, but enough questions to make 3-1 a questionable proposition

4. #17 Derma Sotogake (10-1) — Intriguing entrant has speed in a race that may lack it


1. Hit Show (30-1)

  • TRAINER: Brad Cox
  • JOCKEY: Manny Franco
  • OWNER: Gary and Mary West
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 5-3-1-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 2nd, Grade II Wood Memorial

Bet to favorite in all five of his career starts, this colt by Candy Ride disappointed in the Wood Memorial by getting beat by a nose, but still ran well given his tough post and t​​rip. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier in this group where there is far more class and upside than his prep. His speed figures have steadily improved in each start which signals that he is still maturing, and probably needs to continue on that trend to be a factor in this field. There shouldn’t be any major distance limitations with his running style, though Manny Franco will need to prevent losing position in the ea​​rly goings. This is one that needs things to break perfectly to be considered and would be best used as a possible longshot at the bottom of superfectas if at all. Drawing the inside post probably won’t do this one any favors here as well.

Hit Show (KY) / T: Brad Cox

Candy Ride (ARG) – Actress, by Tapit

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      2 (40 Points)        Wood Memorial (AQU)

02/11/2023      1 (20 Points)        Withers (AQU)

2. Verifying (15-1)

  • TRAINER: Brad Cox
  • JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione
  • OWNER: Jonathan Poulin, Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael B. Tabor
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 6-2-2-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 2nd, Grade I Blue Grass Stakes

Probably wouldn’t have been considered to have winning potential, but flashed his talent in a gutsy second to Tapit Trice in the Blue Grass in what was his best effort to date. He took over at the top of the stretch after sitting off a moderate pace, then dueled with the eventual winner only to be bested late. With a lofty price tag and the breeding of Justify on the top, it makes sense why this Cox trainee has received respect from the betting public and may have more overall upside than his stablemate Angel of Empire. Given the value, this is one to keep an eye on, even if he may not be the best option for ten furlongs. A good stalking trip by Gaffalione and a slower early pace could keep this colt in the mix, making him a decent play underneath in exotics or to hit the board.

Verifying (KY) / T: Brad Cox

Justify – Diva Delite, by Repent

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      2 (40 Points)        Blue Grass (KEE)

02/25/2023      4 (10 Points)        Rebel (OP)

11/04/2022      6 (0 Points)          Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (KEE)

10/01/2022      2 (4 Points)          Champagne (BEL)

3. Two Phil’s (12-1)

  • TRAINER: Larry Rivelli
  • JOCKEY: Jareth Loveberry
  • OWNER: Patricia’s Hope LLC and Phillip Sagan
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 8-4-1-1 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks

An impressive winner of the Jeff Ruby over the artificial Turfway Park track, this colt by Hard Spun took a step forward last time out, putting him among the top contenders with that performance. Normally, when a horse shows dramatic improvement on an artificial surface, it doesn’t always translate back to a dirt course, especially for a younger and more lightly-raced runner. While last year’s Derby winner Rich Strike also came out of the Jeff Ruby, Turfway preps have not been the most competitive for colts aiming towards Churchill. Despite these drawbacks, his win was so visually impressive that it would be tough to ignore him here, especially if he goes off at odds around 20/1. His eight starts are also the most of this field, which gives a nice experience edge over some of the others and with good back class too running in five straight graded tries. Maybe not in the immediate top tier, but still one that has winning chances with a repeat of his Jeff Ruby and can be included underneath in exotics.

Two Phil’s (KY) / T: Larry Rivelli

Hard Spun – Mia Torri, by General Quarters

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

03/25/2023      1 (100 Points)      Jeff Ruby Steaks (TP)

02/18/2023      3 (15 Points)        Risen Star (FG)

01/21/2023      2 (8 Points)          Lecomte (FG)

10/08/2022      7 (0 Points)          Breeders’ Futurity (KEE)

4. Confidence Game (20-1)

  • TRAINER: Keith Desormeaux
  • JOCKEY: James Graham
  • OWNER: Don’t Tell My Wife Stables
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 7-3-1-2 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade II Rebel Stakes

The only one of this group to come off a layoff, Confidence Game enters following a win in the Rebel over a sloppy track at Oaklawn. In that try, he sat off quick early fractions and took over at the top of the stretch, never relinquishing the lead. A closing running style was a change of pace as this Desormeaux trainee could factor into the initial goings he​​re, with his best previous effort being a gate to wire win at Churchill in late November. Whether James Graham is aggressive with this colt or not, he still faces an uphill battle as most of his speed figures and past performances don’t place him with the top choices. He is probably best suited to come from a bit off the pace so that the added distance isn’t an issue, but unless someone unexpected leaves too fast, this longshot closer to hit the board here will be unlikely.

Confidence Game (KY) / T: Keith Desormeaux

Candy Ride (ARG) – Eblouissante, by Bernardini

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

02/25/2023      1 (50 Points)        Rebel (OP)

01/21/2023      3 (6 Points)          Lecomte (FG)

09/17/2022      5 (1 Point)            Iroquois (CD)

5. Tapit Trice (5-1)

  • TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
  • JOCKEY: Luis Saez
  • OWNER: Whisper Hill Farm, LLC and Gainesway Stable 
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 5-4-0-1 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade I Blue Grass Stakes

The winner of the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass as a deep closer, this colt sold for $1.3 million as a yearling with obvious high hopes on the Derby trail and plenty of respect from the betting public in his five tries. While he likely won’t be in the forefront like Forte, he actually put in a better speed figure than his stablemate in his prep try but may need to be a bit more forward to have a chance here. Although the Blue Grass hasn’t been producing the best Derby finishers recently, Zandon hit the board last year coming out of that race, and jockey Luis Saez should be the perfect rider to be a bit more aggressive on this rangy colt by Tapit. Distance shouldn’t be a limitation with this one, as he clearly had some left in the tank after out dueling Verifying in the stretch at Keeneland. This could be a classic Pletcher trainee that improves in for June’s 12-furlong Belmont but cannot be ignored at the right value here if he gets placed a bit more forward than usual.

Tapit Trice (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher

Tapit – Danzatrice, by Dunkirk

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      1 (100 Points)      Blue Grass (KEE)

03/11/2023      1 (50 Points)        Tampa Bay Derby (TAM)

6. Kingsbarns (12-1)

  • TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
  • JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz
  • OWNER: Spendthrift Barn LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 3-3-0-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade II Louisiana Derby

Lightly raced but undefeated in three tries, the most overlooked of the Pletcher trio went gate to wire in his first stakes effort in the Grade II Louisiana Derby. His tactical speed could be a huge advantage here, even if he did get softer fractions against what was likely a lesser field at the Fair Grounds. He still would need to show some improvement since the Louisiana Derby wasn’t the strongest prep and he won’t get the same easy trip and pace this time around. Perhaps with slightly quicker fractions he may have more trouble adjusting to ten furlongs, and with only three starts this could be one that struggles to get away early in a crowded field. Not quite a top win contender based on what he has shown but can make a case to be played underneath at a bigger price. 

Kingsbarns (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher

Uncle Mo – Lady Tapit, by Tapit

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

03/25/2023      1 (100 Points)      Louisiana Derby (FG)

7. Reincarnate (50-1)

  • TRAINER: Tim Yakteen 
  • JOCKEY: John Velazquez
  • OWNER: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan 
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 7-2-3-2 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 3rd, Grade I Arkansas Derby

This one will certainly factor into the early speed, having flashed some of the quickest first quarters of this group. He has hit the board in every effort but faded a bit last time in the Arkansas Derby in his first race at nine furlongs. If Velazquez intends to put this one in the top grouping, it would be difficult to see him holding on based on his prep. He did show an ability to rally after being shuffled back early in the Rebel, but the early speed there ended up falling apart. Interestingly, this colt by Good Magic was still in the Baffert barn for his Sham victory, so he got no points for that wire-to-wire win. Maybe he wasn’t thought of as a Derby contender in the fall after taking four tries to break maiden, and he still isn’t the best of contenders here with a few others more suited to handle this step up in class and distance. 

Reincarnate (KY) / T: Tim Yakteen

Good Magic – Allanah, by Scat Daddy

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/01/2023      3 (30 Points)        Arkansas Derby (OP)

02/25/2023      3 (15 Points)        Rebel (OP)

01/08/2023      1 (0 Points)          Sham (SA)

8. Mage (15-1)

  • TRAINER: Gustavo Delgado
  • JOCKEY: Javier Castellano
  • OWNER: OGMA Investments, LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 3-1-1-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 2nd, Grade I Florida Derby

A lightly raced runner of three, this Good Magic colt ran sharply last time in the Florida Derby, gaining the lead at the top of the stretch, only to be caught by a slightly better horse that day in Forte. He gets a new jockey in Javier Castellano this time, but in the Florida Derby Luis Saez smartly sat off the pace as the early fractions were a bit faster than Mage was accustomed to. Since his first two races were a bit closer to the lead, it will be interesting to see what direction Castellano takes this colt. It is most likely that he aims for a mid-pack to closing trip, in which case this one might just need a bit more experience to handle a larger field and increased traffic. Probably not a top win contender but can certainly run well under the right circumstances.

Mage (KY) / T: Gustavo Delgado

Good Magic – Puca, by Big Brown

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/01/2023      2 (40 Points)        Florida Derby (GP)

03/04/2023      4 (10 Points)        Fountain of Youth (GP)

9.  Skinner (20-1)

  • TRAINER: John Shirreffs
  • JOCKEY: Juan Hernandez
  • OWNER: C R K Stable LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 6-1-0-3 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 3rd, Grade I Santa Anita Derby

An interesting closer who has finished third in two straight to Practical Move, this California-based colt is one that should adjust well to the added distance. In the Santa Anita Derby, he was closing in on Practical Move along with Mandarin Hero and ran out of time before the wire, losing by half a length. This Curlin colt has shown significant improvement as a three-year-old and might only be getting better. Getting the mount is the less experienced Juan Hernandez, who will be making his first start in the Derby — much like Sonny Leon last year. While this could be a good under-the-radar play to finish in the mix, he still would benefit from the right pace set up and cannot drop too far back as he will need to be closer to mid-pack to have any type of chance. A slight uptick in speed figures would likely put him near the top tier of contenders here.

Skinner (KY) / T: John Shirreffs

Curlin – Winding Way, by Malibu Moon

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      3 (30 Points)        Santa Anita Derby (SA)

03/04/2023      3 (15 Points)        San Felipe (SA)

10/08/2022      6 (0 Points)          American Pharoah (SA)

10. Practical Move (10-1)

  • TRAINER: Tim Yakteen
  • JOCKEY: Ramon Vazquez
  • OWNER: : Leslie A. Amestoy, Pierre Jean Amestoy Jr., and Roger K. Beasley
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 7-4-1-2
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade I Santa Anita Derby

A winner of three straight, this Yakteen trainee is in as good of form as any in this field, with some of the sharper speed figures of this group and a decent tactical running style that is best suited here. Last time out in the Santa Anita Derby, he made an early move after a ground-saving trip and held off two oncoming closers late after solid early fractions. Getting a similar trip here would be nice, but if the fractions are a bit faster than expected, this likely stalker may have trouble holding on late. His sire Practical Joke ran much better going one turn in his career, so distance could be a bit of an issue unless the trip is perfect. Despite possible distance limitations, this one can be included in the top tier of win contenders along with Forte and may end up getting the better trip of the two in this crowded field.

Practical Move (KY) / T: Tim Yakteen

Practical Joke – Ack Naughty, by Afleet Alex

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      1 (100 Points)      Santa Anita Derby (SA)

03/04/2023      1 (50 Points)        San Felipe (SA)

12/17/2022      1 (10 Points)        Los Alamitos Futurity (LRC)

11. Disarm (30-1)

  • TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
  • JOCKEY: Joel Rosa​​rio
  • OWNER: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 5-1-2-2 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 3rd, Grade III Lexington Stakes

Ran most recently in the Lexington, finishing an underwhelming third after a second in the Louisiana Derby. He has hit the board in all five starts, with a positive trend in his speed figures in every start. This one by Gun Runner should be a mid-pack finisher with no issue getting the distance and has the right jockey to get him to close strong in the late goings. Top connections should lower his value a bit, but this still could end up being a nice longshot play to go underneath in superfectas. It could take a bit more time for this Asmussen trainee to be in his prime which likely doesn’t make him a true win threat here, but another step forward will make him playable for a strong final push by Rosario.

Disarm (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen

Gun Runner – Easy Tap, by Tapit

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/15/2023      3 (6 Points)          Lexington Stakes (KEE)

03/25/2023      2 (40 Points)        Louisiana Derby (FG)

12. Jace’s Road (50-1)

  • TRAINER: Brad Cox 
  • JOCKEY: Florent Geroux
  • OWNER: West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 6-2-0-2 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 3rd, Grade II Louisiana Derby

The last of the Brad Cox quartet to make it into this field, the third-place finisher of the Louisiana Derby could factor into the pace here which could open up the race for others. It doesn’t appear that his past performances put him near the winner’s circle, and he sat off a slower pace in his recent prep only to fade in the stretch. If those fractions weren’t sustainable with that trip, there likely isn’t a path for him to be a player in the final result. With Quality Road on top, this may be one that ends up having more success going one turn for Cox, and certainly still has some upside to be a successful runner down the road. Still, if the running style remains, a bit of added pace pressure could drastically change the outlook of this race for the top contenders.

Jace’s Road (KY) / T: Brad Cox

Quality Road – Out Post, by Silver Deputy

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

03/25/2023      3 (30 Points)        Louisiana Derby (FG)

01/28/2023      5 (2 Points)          Southwest (OP)

12/26/2022      1 (10 Points)        Gun Runner (FG)

09/17/2022      3 (3 Points)          Iroquois (CD)

13. Sun Thunder (50-1)

  • TRAINER: Kenneth McPeek
  • JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez Jr.
  • OWNER: R.T Racing Stable and Cypress Creek Equine
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 6-1-1-1 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 4th, Grade I Blue Grass Stakes

A longshot that has good class running in four straight graded races, this McPeek trainee has a very late closing kick and typically starts well behind the leading g​​roup. Seeing as this may not be the best race for that style, and this colt by Into Mischief hasn’t been close to winning in three out of four preps, it is hard to see a scenario where he finishes well. A ridiculous pace similar to last year would be the exception, and even then there are better options to pick up the pieces in the stretch. He was cleanly beaten in both the Blue Grass and the Louisiana Derby, with his lone good effort coming in the Risen Star. Even in that one, Angel of Empire outkicked him after jockey Brian Hernandez grabbed the top position entering the top of the stretch. If he was unable to hang on there, it will be far more difficult to get the same trip and could be one to get trapped behind horses in a larger field such as this.

Sun Thunder (KY) / T: Kenneth McPeek

Into Mischief – Greenfield d’Oro, by Medaglia d’Oro

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      4 (20 Points)        Blue Grass (KEE)

03/25/2023      5 (10 Points)        Louisiana Derby (FG)

02/18/2023      2 (20 Points)        Risen Star (FG)

01/28/2023      4 (4 Points)          Southwest (OP)

14. Angel of Empire (8-1)

  • TRAINER: Brad Cox
  • JOCKEY: Flavien Prat
  • OWNER: Albaugh Family Stables LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 6-4-1-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade I Arkansas Derby

Another one that looks to come from mid-pack, this Pennsylvania-bred colt took a clear step forward in his comfortable win in the Arkansas Derby as he drew away from the field in the late stretch. That effort put him closer to the recent tries by Forte and Practical Move, and if he takes another step forward here he could end up as the best value short-price win contender. Last year, Cyberknife won the Arkansas Derby for Brad Cox and finished the worst of his three entries in Kentucky, but Angel of Empire appears to be improving at a bit quicker of a pace than that runner for Cox, and clearly should have no problem with this distance. He has shown the best recent form of the four Brad Cox entries in this field and received a better speed figure for his Arkansas Derby win than both Forte and Practical Move in their recent starts. The angle against him may be that the Arkansas Derby fields have ended up a bit weaker than the typically stronger Florida and Santa Anita groups, but continuing on this trajectory puts this one with the top pairing here.

Angel of Empire (PA) / T: Brad Cox

Classic Empire – Armony’s Angel, by To Honor and Serve

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/01/2023      1 (100 Points)      Arkansas Derby (OP)

02/18/2023      1 (50 Points)        Risen Star (FG)

01/01/2023      2 (4 Points)          Smarty Jones (OP)

15. Forte (3-1)

  • TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
  • JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • OWNER: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 7-6-0-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade I Florida Derby

Dating back to his win in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga in September, this three-year-old by Violence has been the top contender for the Derby by dominating the two-year-old trail in the Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He followed those wins with an impressive victory in the Fountain of Youth and a more hard-fought one in the Florida Derby last time out. Although Todd Pletcher hasn’t had many great performances in the Derby from his trainees, it would be easy to include this runner as the top choice on most tickets, and after last year, would make sense for this race to revert back to its previous form of favorites winning. Even as some favorites have lost in recent years, they still have performed well overall, finishing within the top three or four. The only true knock on this colt would probably be the mid-pack to closing running style in this field. Last year, a blistering pace set up a deep closer in Rich Strike, but there doesn’t appear to be as much potential pace here with only five contenders ever showing gate-to-wire wins in their career. Perhaps Derma Sotogake sets a fast pace to run at, or stablemate Kingsbarns gives Forte a target, but even those who have shown early speed have typically won due to slower fractions rather than preferred running style. Still, with a slightly more aggressive trip by Irad Ortiz who knows that he won’t get the same pace scenario as in the Florida Derby, this three-year-old is one that needs to be included in exotics and as a win contender due to his class and favorable speed figures.

Forte (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher

Violence – Queen Caroline, by Blame

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/01/2023      1 (100 Points)      Florida Derby (GP)

03/04/2023      1 (50 Points)        Fountain of Youth (GP)

11/04/2022      1 (30 Points)        Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (KEE)

10/08/2022      1 (10 Points)        Breeders’ Futurity (KEE)

16. Raise Cain (50-1)

  • TRAINER: Ben Colebrook
  • JOCKEY: Gerardo Corrales
  • OWNER: Andrew Warren and Rania Warren
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 7-2-1-1 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 5th, Grade I Blue Grass Stakes

After an easy win in the Grade III Gotham in the mud, this Ben Colebrook trainee wasn’t competitive in his Blue Grass prep finishing fifth by 6 3/4 lengths. With a lack of close efforts since breaking maiden, it is hard to see a path where this colt by Violence is in the mix here. In fact, his only strong winning effort was the result of a quick pace and sloppy surface more than anything, and he has never been a post time favorite in seven tries and was 23-1 in the Gotham. A deep closing style also probably won’t be best suited for this group, as there are clear better options to pick up the pieces if the early fractions are solid. Raise Cain would need to show significant improvement in speed figures and his tactical speed to be a factor.

Raise Cain (KY) / T: Ben Colebrook

Voilence – Lemon Belle, by Lemon Drop Kid

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      5 (10 Points)        Blue Grass (KEE)

03/04/2023      1 (50 Points)        Gotham (AQU)

12/26/2022      2 (4 Points)          Gun Runner (FG)

17. Derma Sotogake (10-1)

  • TRAINER: Hidetaka Otonashi
  • JOCKEY: Christophe Lemaire
  • OWNER: Hiroyuki Asanuma
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 8-4-0-2 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade II UAE Derby

With a clear lack of pace in this field, the plan for this Japanese-bred colt by Mind Your Biscuits appears simple. A convincing UAE Derby win that was gate to wire sets this one up with a path to repeat that running style amongst this field and nab the early lead out of the gate. If he gets the right fractions, this could be Derma Sotogake’s dream trip barring a longshot applying pressure in the early going. The recent success of Japanese horses in North American stakes bodes well for this one, even though the UAE Derby has been a tough prep race to come out of. Last year, Summer is Tomorrow came from Dubai and set a ridiculous opening half that set up for a deeper closer and made it near impossible for any early goers to finish in the top grouping, but a bit more control from Christophe Lemaire here might be exactly what this colt needs to continue Japan’s run at racing success. Having a sire that preferred to go shorter distances isn’t usually a good sign, but the easy hand ride down the Meydan stretch should be enough indication that this horse isn’t limited to under ten furlongs. With a good break and modest fractions, this may be the most promising contender coming from Dubai yet and can be a good play to hit the board at the right value, even with the tougher seventeen post.

Derma Sotogake (JPN) / T: Hidetaka Otonashi

Mind Your Biscuits – Amour Poesie (JPN), by Neo Universe (JPN)

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

03/25/2023      1 (100 Points)      UAE Derby (MEY)

12/14/2022      1 (20 Points)        Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun (KAW)

18. Rocket Can (30-1)

  • TRAINER: William Mott
  • JOCKEY: Junior Alvarado
  • OWNER: Frank Fletcher Racing Operations Inc.
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 7-2-2-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 4th, Grade I Arkansas Derby

Won the G​​rade III Holy Bull a couple months ago at Gulfstream, and followed that up with a distant second to Forte in the Fountain of Youth then fourth in the Arkansas Derby. Has good bloodlines with Into Mischief and solid connections to boot, but it isn’t super encouraging that he has finished worse in three consecutive races, as this is one that may struggle to stay involved if he doesn’t break sharply. He also doesn’t seem to be trending forward and the added distance might be an issue which makes it difficult to give him winning chances here. A positive is that this colt has been respected by the betting public, going off as the favorite in Arkansas, and never with longer odds than 8/1. Clearly there is some upside here, but it might be down the road as this Mott trainee would need to get a perfect aggressive trip and improve to be playable in this spot.

Rocket Can (KY) / T: William Mott

Into Mischief – Tension, by Tapit

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/01/2023      4 (20 Points)        Arkansas Derby (OP)

03/04/2023      2 (20 Points)        Fountain of Youth (GP)

02/04/2023      1 (20 Points)        Holy Bull (GP)

19. Lord Miles (30-1)

  • TRAINER: Saffie Joseph Jr.
  • JOCKEY: Paco Lopez
  • OWNER: Vegso Racing Stable
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 5-2-0-1 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 1st, Grade II Wood Memorial

Coming off a 59-1 win in the Wood Memorial, it would appear that this colt by Curlin is well primed to step up into this Derby field for another top flight performance. He also is working well and in good form, so maybe another step up puts him in contention. Unfortunately, it would probably take a major advancement to be considered a true winning choice here, as he has put forth more underwhelming speed figures and comes out of a Wood Memorial where he sat off a slower pace and barely nosed out a more underwhelming field than the top Grade I preps. Last year’s Wood featured Mo Donegal closing to beat Early Voting in the fastest final furlong of all Derby preps and saw those top two finishers follow up by winning the Belmont and Preakness respectively. Lord Miles’ prep appears to be more reflective of Bourbonic winning this Aqueduct Grade II at 70/1 two years ago. While it wouldn’t be a surprise if a colt with these bloodlines and stalking running style runs well here, there appear to be better options with far more upside in this spot.

Lord Miles (KY) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Curlin – Lady Esme, by Majestic Warrior

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      1 (100 Points)      Wood Memorial (AQU)

03/11/2023      5 (5 Points)          Tampa Bay Derby (TAM)

02/04/2023      6 (0 Points)          Holy Bull (GP)

20. Continuar (50-1)

  • TRAINER: Yoshito Yahagi
  • JOCKEY: Ryusei Sakai
  • OWNER: Lion Race Horse Co. Ltd.
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 5-2-1-1 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 3rd, UAE Derby

The “other” Japanese-bred gets an invite into this field, after a distant third to Derma Sotogake last time out. Watching his UAE Derby doesn’t put him in the same class as his Japanese counterpart, so it is tough to see how he competes with this tougher group. Having a sprinter in Drefong as his sire won’t bode well for his adjustment to this distance, although the UAE Derby is only half a furlong shorter than the classic mile and a quarter. Purely based on his replays, this is a difficult spot for this likely huge longshot, and it would be shocking to see him find a way to hit the board here.

Continuar (JPN) / T: Yoshito Yahagi

Drefong – Pan de Ring (JPN), by King Kamehameha (JPN)

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

03/25/2023      3 (30 Points)        UAE Derby (MEY)

21. Cyclone Mischief (30-1 AE)

  • TRAINER: Dale Romans
  • JOCKEY: Joel Rosario
  • OWNER: Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Castleton Lyons
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 7-2-0-3 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 3rd, Grade I Florida Derby

Has faded in his last three stretch runs, this one will be huge odds if he draws in and unlike Rich Strike from last year, doesn’t appear to be geared towards added distance. With a difficult task of breaking well from a likely outside post, it would be tough to give this one a real chance to be in the mix in the instance of another dropping out of this field.

Cyclone Mischief (KY) / T: Dale Romans

Into Mischief – Areyoucominghere, by Bernardini

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/01/2023      3 (30 Points)        Florida Derby (GP)

03/04/2023      3 (15 Points)        Fountain of Youth (GP)

02/04/2023      7 (0 Points)          Holy Bull (GP)

11/26/2022      7 (0 Points)          Kentucky Jockey Club (CD)

22. Mandarin Hero (20-1 AE)

  • TRAINER: Terunobu Fujita
  • JOCKEY: Kazushi Kimura
  • OWNER: Hiroaki Arai
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 6-4-2-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 2nd, Grade I Santa Anita Derby

This colt is clearly better than some others who are in the field of twenty, showing a nice closing kick and putting in a sharp speed figure in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in his first effort in North America. With some extra distance, he likely could have passed Practical Move in that one, and would be a real contender to close and hit the board at a nice price in the very off chance that he draws in here.

Mandarin Hero (JPN) / T: Terunobu Fujita

Shanghai Bobby – Namura Nadeshiko (JPN), by Fuji Kiseki (JPN)

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/08/2023      2 (40 Points)        Santa Anita Derby (SA)

23. King Russell (50-1 AE)

  • TRAINER: Ron Moquett
  • JOCKEY: Rafael Bejarano
  • OWNER: Brereton C. Jones and Naber Racing LLC
  • LIFETIME RECORD: 6-1-3-0 
  • MOST RECENT RACE: 2nd, Grade I Arkansas Derby

Took five tries to break his maiden, but ran a solid second to Angel of Empire last time in his only prep in the Arkansas Derby, and at the very least shouldn’t have an issue with this distance as he appears to want to go further. In that first stakes effort, he ran by four others in the stretch, including two that are in the Derby field. One to keep an eye on going forward in longer races such as the Belmont if Moquett aims him towards that challenge.

King Russell (KY) / T: Ron Moquett

Creative Cause – Believe You Will, by Proud Citizen

VIDEO PAST PERFORMANCES (includes all North American Derby points races)

04/01/2023      2 (40 Points)        Arkansas Derby (OP)